DID YOU READ

At SXSW, the bands played on.

At SXSW, the bands played on. (photo)

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The SXSW Music Festival opened with a jolt on Wednesday: Big Star frontman Alex Chilton had died of an apparent heart attack. From that point until the end of the fest, when Big Star’s closing showcase at the hallowed blues club Antone’s turned into an all-star tribute to Chilton, songs in sets near and far were dedicated to the man who brought us wistful, right-of-passage classics like “I’m in Love with a Girl” and “Thirteen.”

Yes, the bands played on. There were a handful of older acts getting back into game. Courtney Love’s Hole slithered onstage after a ten-year hiatus, new members intact, to polarize crowds and promote her forthcoming album “Nobody’s Daughter.” Roky Erickson, whose psych-rock band the 13th Floor Elevators was the stuff of Austin in the late ’60s, returned to the fold bolstered by the music of fellow locals Okkervil River, in support of their collaborative album “True Love Cast Out All Evil.” And then there was the Queen of Rock, Wanda Jackson, to whom Jack White is giving the Loretta Lynn treatment.

03232010_sxswmusic2.jpgBeyond that, indie bands Surfer Blood and Titus Andronicus scored lots of ink. Obscure, old-school punk band Death made good on critics’ praises. Sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, who with Natalie Maines are the Dixie Chicks, debuted their own band, Court Yard Hounds. Timber Timbre, the moniker for Taylor Kirk, upped the ante on singer-songwriter fare. Drive-By Truckers, Band of Horses and Broken Social Scene played an incredible triple bill. And Demolished Thoughts, a super-band comprised of Thurston Moore, J. Mascis and Andrew W.K., blitzed through a run of ’80s hardcore covers.

This year’s SXSW Music Festival had more than 13,000 registrants. Many left with a better sense of the word “pop-up.” There were pop-up shows, including a spontaneous lunchtime gig in a parking garage on Red River Street featuring Broken Bells, an experiment between the Shins’ James Mercer and Gnarls Barkley’s Danger Mouse that failed to live up to expectations. There were also pop-up shops. Jack White’s Third Man Records set up a storefront at the gourmet hotdog restaurant Frank to push vinyl and White Stripes paraphernalia. White’s wife Karen Elson, a musician in her own right, played there Saturday night, allowing at least the possibility of a White sighting.

Free day shows have become the norm for a new generation of festival-goer incapable of paying upwards of $500 for a badge to the 24-year-old festival. It’s at these day parties where the ratio of music, accommodations and booze can turn into magic, like at this year’s Nonesuch Records party at Hotel Saint Cecilia. (You may recall Nonesuch as the label that rescued Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.”) Standing out on the bill was the Low Anthem, a sepia-toned four-piece out of Providence, whose debut album “Oh My God, Charlie Darwin” is an elegant affair. Their four-part harmonies pierced the breeze, on a tail of clarinet, bowed saw and pump organ. One new song, about going to the apothecary to pick up the cure, featured a maraca made out of pill bottles.

The Village Voice Media day party was another scene altogether, body upon body in pursuit of Facebook friends. But that ceased when London trio the XX, playing in support of their narcotic, vocal-volleying self-titled album, blanketed the crowd with a layer of black velvet cascaded over with electro beats. Bassist Oliver Sim knew all about the buzz behind his band. He told the audience “thank you” at the end of the song “VCR” before they even had a chance to clap.

03232010_sxswmusic3.jpgCarolina Chocolate Drops played one of two distinctly excellent day-show parties in South Austin on the final day of the fest. The three-piece, performing at Jovita’s, mined old-timey tradition with determined authenticity. They opened with “Chased Old Satan Through the Door,” blazing with violin, banjo and foot-stomping. They followed it with square dance and Charleston numbers, accented with jug-blowing and wild dancing. On “Cindy Gal,” from their debut album “Genuine Negro Jig,” Dom Flemons played cow rib bones, prefaced with instructions on how to play ’em: hold one tight and let the other one smack it.

And then, in the hours leading up to the Alex Chilton tribute, Quasi stabbed through the suddenly frigid temperatures with their fortysomething slacker rock on the back patio of Home Slice Pizza. The Portland band has been trucking on and off for nearly 20 years, predating Sleater-Kinney, the band drummer Janet Weiss is most remembered for playing in. Weiss provided thunderous rhythm for ex-husband Sam Coomes’ tales of grown-up woes, powerfully conveyed on songs like “Repulsion” and “Little White Horse” from the band’s killer new album “American Gong.” The late, great Chilton would have appreciated their candor.

[Photos by Kathy Hoinski]

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.